Surgeon rewarded for bravery in New Zealand earthquake

A consultant urologist at the RNOH has been awarded a medal for his bravery during the New Zealand earthquake last year.

Mr Julian Shah was a guest speaker at an event in Christchurch when the earthquake struck in February 2011, killing 185 people.

Mr Shah rushed to the town centre along with two junior doctors to see if they could help. He found that the cathedral and press building had been devastated.

As he made himself known to rescuers as a doctor, he was ushered with a hard hat to the building’s top floor, where he helped a woman with a broken arm as she lay trapped by a concrete beam crushing her legs.

Despite saving the woman’s life, Mr Shah found himself in danger when an aftershock threatened to destroy the building he was in. Already four storeys high, he had no option but to jump two metres onto the roof of an adjacent building, where he then navigated his way down a dark staircase using a torch app on his phone, before assisting the woman to hospital.

Mr Shah received his medal at the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand’s annual dinner in Darwin, Australia last week.

Mr Shah said the award ceremony was “fantastic”

“It was proceeded by a presentation about the earthquake and I was almost moved to tears but I had to pull it together to go on stage,” he said.

"The whole world saw the devastation caused by the Christchurch Earthquake. It was a terrifying experience for many people, and one that will live on in my memory.”

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